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Authors: Elizabeth Amber

Nicholas: The Lords of Satyr

BOOK: Nicholas: The Lords of Satyr
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NICHOLAS:
THE LORDS
OF SATYR
NICHOLAS: THE LORDS OF SATYR
ELIZABETH AMBER

APHRODISIA

KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.
http://www.kensingtonbooks.com

PROLOGUE

Satyr Estate, Tuscany, Italy
1823

I
t was Moonful and a Calling night.

The Lords of Satyr met silently in the sacred gathering place at the heart of the family’s ancient vineyard. Instinct had driven them here. Need fueled them.

They paused beneath a large statue—the most imposing of those that ringed the isolated glen. Above them on a pedestal, Bacchus stood frozen in stone. Grapevines wreathed his hair, and a wine goblet was extended in one hand as though he were offering a toast in celebration of what they were about to do.

The first shaft of moonlight dispelled the murk, drenching the lords in its silver, revealing their nakedness. Almost in unison, they were seized by cramps that rippled cruelly over their taut bellies. They bent low, their features contorting into grimaces. Raw groans that were a blend of pain and pleasure erupted from their throats as the last physical change of the Calling night occurred.

Nicholas, the eldest, recovered first.

His eyes made a quick survey of the glen. It was protected, he knew. Strangers never came here. When Humans wandered too close, they were repelled by a force they didn’t understand.

He willed himself to uncoil and stand, relieved that the turmoil had passed. He hated the feeling of helplessness that always accompanied the Change. He couldn’t afford to be vulnerable, even for so short a time. There was too much at stake.

It would be dangerous for anyone to see him or his brothers like this. He was a freakish creature now, fit only for a harem or brothel that catered to those with a taste for the bizarre. Just the sort of place he might frequent, were he in a particular sort of mood.

He touched himself, slid a thumb and two fingers along newly awakened flesh from root to crown. His thumb found the drop of moisture in the crease at his tip and idly smeared it.

The last Change of Moonful had gifted him with this new shaft of bone and sinew—this second cock ripped from his own flesh. It extended high and hard from his pelvis, and twitched with hunger. Only slightly smaller than the enormous cock already rooted just below in his thatch, it craved relief as much as its twin. He soothed it, stroking. Mimicking the welcome it would soon find between female thighs, as he waited for his brothers to undergo a similar change.

At his command, ribbons of swirling mist spun in the glen and then stilled, shape-shifting. Iridescent forms rose from the vapor and solidified into Shimmerskins—insentient females who had serviced the Satyr since ancient times. Their soft hands caressed his newly furred haunches, offering comfort.

Moments later, the three lords moved apart to pursue their individual pleasures. Their instincts were more animal than man now, their minds riveted on one goal.

The Shimmerskins moved before them like lush automatons, each dutifully preparing to fulfill the role for which she’d been designed. Eagerly, they padded to the small tablelike altars dotting the glen. Their smiles were vacant, their movements gliding.

Breasts and abdomens met cold granite as they bent forward over the stone slabs, with their legs widespread and their bare feet planted in the moss. Orifices automatically moistened and readied as they prostrated themselves, awaiting the pleasure of the lords, just as countless legions of their kind had offered themselves here over the centuries.

Each brother chose a Shimmerskin and nestled close behind her.

Moonlight caught the cobalt glitter of his eyes as Nicholas stood over a golden Shimmerskin. With his thumbs, he pressed the ruddy, straining tips of his cocks to the anal and vaginal openings on display. Like his brothers, he needed two female openings at once for his first mating of this night. His second cock required only a single ejaculation and would afterward retreat inside him until next month’s Moonful.

His palms flattened upon the stone on either side of her hips. He didn’t prepare her as he would a Human woman. Shimmerskins didn’t feel pain. Or pleasure, though they faked it well.

A low rumble welled in his chest as he stared down at her smooth, glimmering back. With a harsh growl, he plunged deep.

She moaned as her kind always did when he breached one. Nearby, her sisters echoed the lonely feminine sound. It meant nothing, he knew. Everything they did was programmed to incite male passion. He had but to imagine an action and she would perform it, no matter how obscene or debauched.

He drew back and plunged again, and again. Dual stabs sacrificed her to his rhythmic grind. Her tissues worshiped his cocks like wet fists, tugging him toward release with methodical precision.

Distantly, he felt his brothers’ exultation in their rut, and it fueled his own. Satyr blood linked them, causing them to share emotions at times of heightened stress.

For long moments, the stark slap of heated flesh was loud in the hush of the glen. Nick bucked with mindless, merciless strength, scarcely registering the attentions of the other Shimmerskins whose hands entwined and caressed him, as they awaited a turn.

Fauns, nymphs, faeries, and maenads sculpted from rock and forever locked in carnal embraces gazed down on the scene with lusty approval. Bacchus smiled indulgently, pleased.

Rapture spiraled, each brother’s passion building on that which another experienced. For a time, Nick lost himself to the animalistic mating.

Eventually, his sacs drew up, tightening. Raw need twisted in his gut.

Three triumphant shouts of release sounded almost at once. Hot, wet seed blasted forth. The Shimmerskins’ inner passages convulsed in acceptance.

Nick’s breath sawed in his lungs in the aftermath of the anguished, empty gratification.

He gritted his teeth against new pain as his second cock, now satiated, receded from the Shimmerskin’s anus and back into his pelvis. The razor’s edge of need hadn’t dulled. But he would require only one female opening now.

The golden Shimmerskin faded into the nothingness from which she’d come. Nick took a fresh victim under him.

Masculine commands and grunts mingled and floated on trails of mist. All were captured by a gentle breeze as the three Lords of Satyr slaked their lust until dawn.

1

L
ord Nicholas Satyr lifted the dagger from the desk before him, anxious to have the task ahead complete. The blade flashed, reflecting the intensity of his strange pale gaze, before twisting to slice through the tasseled cord encircling the roll of parchment.

The missive’s arrival that morning had been both unexpected and unwelcome. Dispatches from ElseWorld were infrequent and usually portended mischief of some kind. Trouble was already threatening the vineyards, which lay at the heart of Satyr lands. He could spare little time for any nonsense.

As the cord fell away, the coiled document unrolled with a will of its own, releasing a faint hint of magic into the room. Nick spared a quick glance for his younger brothers, Raine and Lyon, whom he’d summoned an hour ago from their adjacent estates within the Satyr compound. They would have sensed it, too.

Raine stood at the window, hands clasped at his back as he surveyed Nick’s manicured gardens. Whirls of fog obscured the tangled forest and grapevine-covered hillsides beyond. He was, as usual, meticulously outfitted in gray, his cropped hair and garb as restrained as the early spring morning he observed.

Restless energy crackled from Lyon as he prowled Nick’s salon, wending his brawny frame among elegant furnishings and curious artifacts. Occasionally he paused to examine one of his brother’s newer acquisitions in his pawlike grasp, but he didn’t linger. He was impatient to learn the document’s contents and return to the business of overseeing his property.

Nick’s fingertips tingled from the hum of ElseWorld magic caught in the parchment, but nothing in his face revealed his thoughts as he read. Over the course of three decades, he’d learned to disguise his emotions. They’d all found it necessary to hide their true natures, having grown up half Human, half Satyr in an EarthWorld intolerant of their kind.

Turning from the window, Raine glanced toward the parchment. “Is it from an Elder?”

Nick nodded, a curt inclination of his dark head. “King Feydon himself.”

Lyon halted midstride and whipped around. “What the devil does
he
want?”

The leather of Nick’s chair creaked subtly as he shifted all six and a half feet of his well-muscled form. “It seems he has managed to sire three Earth daughters.”

Raine digested this news in silence, a slight stiffening of his shoulders the only indication that he’d heard.

Lyon snorted in amusement. “That randy old goat of a Faerie Elder sent us a birth announcement? From his deathbed, no less.”

Not fully grasping the import of the news, he blithely twirled a globe of EarthWorld upon the tip of one finger. Jeweled continents, sapphire oceans, and an emerald dragon or two sparkled in the candlelight.

“His announcement is somewhat belated,” Nick clarified. “The birthings occurred some twenty years ago. Apparently he’s had an attack of conscience at this late date. And it’s his dying wish that we remedy the situation he leaves behind.”

Raine folded his arms, suspicion coloring his eyes a stormy gray. “And how precisely are we to do that?”

“According to his instructions, we are to locate his progeny and marry them,” said Nick.

A bark of astonished laughter escaped Lyon. “What?!”

Nick tossed the parchment on the desk. “Read it yourselves if you doubt me. And have a care with my orb, Lyon.”

Lyon looked down at his broad hands and saw they were very nearly crushing one of Nick’s precious objects. His strength belonged to the outdoors and served him well in the Satyr vineyards. However, it didn’t suit Nick’s fashionable rooms, and he constantly had to be on guard lest he fatally upset something.

Grimacing, he set the globe back to rest in its cradle and headed for the letter on Nick’s desk. He snatched it up and read aloud.

Lords of Satyr, Sons of Bacchus,

Be it known that I lie dying and naught may be done. As my time draws near, the weight of past indiscretions haunts me. I must tell of them.

Nineteen summers ago, I fathered daughters upon three highborn Human females of EarthWorld. I sowed my childseed whilst these females slumbered, leaving each unaware of my nocturnal visit.

My three grown daughters are now vulnerable and must be shielded from Forces that would harm them. ’Tis my dying wish you will find it your duty to husband them and bring them under your protection. You may search them out among the society of Rome, Venice, and Paris.

Thus is my Will.

“This is absurd,” Lyon muttered in disgust. He slapped the letter to Nick’s desk, causing the crystal bottles in the inkstand to rattle. The small act of violence did little to mollify him, and he turned to prowl the room again as though he were a caged animal seeking escape.

Raine took up the parchment and silently scanned its contents, assessing each phrase, searching for nuances of meaning. When he finally set it aside, his expression was grim.

He’d been wed before, three years earlier, but the marriage had ended in disaster within months. He had no plans to marry again. But he didn’t speak of that now.

“Interesting that Feydon chose to produce three
female
offspring, and in locations so obligingly convenient to us,” he remarked.

Nick slanted him a considering glance. “Almost as though he intended his daughters for us from the beginning.”

Lyon swung around. “Seven hells! Do you suppose he spawned them on purpose in some misguided attempt to saddle us with wives?”

“Now that he has slipped into the shadows between life and death, we can only guess at his motives,” said Raine.

Nick leaned back, causing his chair to protest once more. Candlelight flickered, glancing blue highlights off the jet black of his hair.

“It would be like him, however. We’re the only of our kind left in EarthWorld, and he has long made clear he felt it our duty to procreate so Satyr lands won’t fall into Human hands. Our properties need heirs, yet we have shown ourselves reluctant to sire them. He may have felt such an action justified.”

“‘Forces that would harm them,’” Lyon quoted from the parchment. “Do you think he means forces from his World or ours?”

“Or could it simply be a ruse to ensure our involvement?” asked Raine.

“If so, it’s an effective tactic,” said Nick. “Feydon knows our protective instincts would cause us to act if his children are in danger.”

“It’s an unfair obligation to thrust upon us,” said Raine.

“Damn right, O Master of Understatement,” said Lyon. “It’s blatant manipulation.”

“Manipulation or not, it makes our decision regarding a course of action or inaction a rather pressing matter,” said Raine.

“Surely we must take some action,” Lyon said, voicing reluctant concern. “These FaerieBlend females can’t be left to fend for themselves. Can they?”

He and Raine looked to Nick.

“If we’re to believe Feydon’s missive, the females he mated were unaware he bedded them,” said Nick. “That being the case, both mothers and daughters are innocent of any deceit directed our way.”

“It’s likely the daughters don’t realize they’re of ElseWorld,” said Raine.

“Though they must be feeling the quickening pulse of Faerie blood,” said Lyon.

“And misunderstanding its meaning if there’s no one to guide them,” said Nick. “’Tis a troubling notion.”

“But not at all tempting,” Raine stated baldly. “I’ve no interest in marrying again.”

Nick and Lyon exchanged glances.

“Marriage to a half-Faerie creature could succeed where one to a Human failed,” said Nick.

Raine shrugged. “Nevertheless, I’m unwilling to experiment.”

Lyon ran blunt fingertips through the tangle of his thick tawny hair. “I find myself in agreement with Raine. I’ve no interest in tying myself to a woman not of my choosing, be she Faerie or Human. Isn’t there some way to protect Feydon’s daughters short of marriage?”

“How? Shall we hound their footsteps over the years to come in order to guard them against trouble?” asked Nick. “They will have us arrested.”

“I still say marriage can be avoided. Why not simply bring them to Satyr land and let them roam about as they please?” suggested Lyon.

Nick laughed, and Raine shot him a pitying glance.

Lyon looked affronted. “What? They will be safe here under our protection.”

“Like your other pets?” asked Raine, referring to Lyon’s menagerie of exotic animals that ranged freely on Satyr lands.

“They’re females, not livestock,” said Nick. “They will never agree to so ridiculous an arrangement. We must husband them and bring them under our protection. I see no other way.”

Raine eyed his older brother. “You seem strangely committed to the idea of marriage after so little consideration.”

Nick flexed his wide shoulders, straining the seams of his waistcoat and causing the subtle design in the dark teal brocade to shimmer. It was an unusual coat selected from among the treasures of his ancestors. Something about it pleased him. But then, he relished the unusual.

“Granted, the notion of marriage was unlooked for,” he said. “But as I reflect on Feydon’s edict I realize it provides a certain…opportunity.”

Lyon gave him a look of false commiseration. “Poor Nick. Have you lacked for the attentions of a sufficient bounty of females all these years? You should have spoken sooner. Raine and I would be glad to share with you some of the legions angling for our portion of the Satyr coffers.”

Raine smiled, a fleeting lift of one corner of his mouth. “He makes a point, big brother. We’ve all had more than a few opportunities to shackle ourselves over the years.”

“We need heirs,” said Nick.

Raine and Lyon stared at him in surprise.

“My thirtieth year approaches. You trail me by only two years, Raine. And you by merely four, Lyon. Who else are we to sire sons and daughters on if not these FaerieBlends?” Nick demanded, gesturing toward the parchment. “They are by nature half breeds, a blend of EarthWorld and ElseWorld, like us.”

“But unlike us, Feydon’s daughters have Faerie blood in their veins,” Raine reminded him.

“And the Faerie are volatile,” added Lyon. “Who knows what diverse bag of tricks they may possess?” He shuddered.

“My material point is that while Human women might find certain of our ways strange or distasteful, a Fey wife would be less apt to present any objection to the manner in which we might presume to quest for heirs,” said Nick.

“But what sort of heirs will they provide?” Raine asked, shaking his head. “A half-Satyr husband mating a half-Faerie wife? What kind of children can come of it?”

“If we don’t intervene, it’s probable the FaerieBlends will marry and mate with Humans. What offspring do you imagine might come of that?” Nick asked pointedly.

Lyon rammed his hands into the pockets of his sturdy trousers and sighed. He dressed the part of a vintner, wearing rumpled trousers, a nubby cotton tunic, and greatboots. “You’re right. Neither they nor their children will know what to make of their abilities. That could prove disastrous.”

A brittle tension settled over the room.

“The Satyr have always looked after the Faerie,” Nick said decisively.

Lyon sighed. “It appears settled we must marry them. Bacchus, what if mine is stupid? Or offensive? How will I stand to bed her?”

“As I understand it, marriage and protection are our only obligations,” said Raine. “Feydon’s missive stated no requirement to mate or sire offspring.”

Nick’s eyes sharpened on him. “True.”

“You would bind your wife to a childless marriage?” asked Lyon. “Bind yourself to one?”

“The choice will be hers, the facts put to her before we marry,” said Raine. “I want no Blended children who will suffer the alienation of finding one foot in EarthWorld and one in ElseWorld while not properly fitting in either.”

“What of the wine?” asked Lyon. “Our heirs must carry on our work in the vineyards when we’re gone.”

The vine-covered hills at the center of the Satyr compound produced grapes, which were made into wine each season. Labeled
Lords of Satyr,
it was hotly sought by the wealthy and titled throughout Europe and beyond. Some whispered that Satyr wine possessed magical properties, which it in fact did.

The brothers’ trio of estates was strategically placed at triangulated points along the borders of an ancient forest, like guard towers at three corners of a fortress. At the center of each estate stood an ancient castle with extensive gardens and grounds that met and eventually mingled with the trees of the magnificent old-growth forest. The forest in turn ringed the base of the sloping hills of the vineyards, which formed the central core of their lands.

Theirs was ancient ground chosen by their ancestors for a special purpose—to serve as a sacred joining place for ElseWorld and EarthWorld. In centuries past, many Satyr had secretly dwelled here, protecting the portal that led between worlds. Now there were but three.

Raine flicked a speck of dust from his immaculate jacket, the expression in his gray eyes opaque. “Your offspring are welcome to my share. Let that settle the matter.”

“For now,” Nick relented.

Raine shrugged.

“Then it’s only left to determine which daughter we select,” said Lyon.

“Rome is most convenient for me,” said Nick. “Any objections?”

“None. I’ll take Paris,” said Raine. “Damn, I abhor traveling.”

“Traveling? To Paris? I’ll remind you I’m left with Venice,” said Lyon. “The journey there will be excruciating after the rains.”

Raine quirked an eyebrow. “It should be no hardship since you travel there to meet buyers with regularity.”

“Still, it’s a bad time to be away. Many of my animals are in foal,” said Lyon. “And the vineyards need watching.”

“We can exert enough of our combined Will to bolster the forcewall around Satyr lands for weeks,” said Raine.

“Why take unnecessary risk? It’s my opinion some of us should stay,” said Lyon.

“Agreed,” said Nick. “I will go first. Once I secure my bride, your searches can follow.”

Raine and Lyon assented, and soon thereafter, all three turned to the door.

BOOK: Nicholas: The Lords of Satyr
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